A stylish new Baroque CD from Greg Ewer and Adam LaMotte

The duet play Jean-Marie LeClair's sonatas for two violins plus a Sherrie Wolf museum show and an anti-bully play winner

For several years Greg Ewer, Oregon Symphony violinist AND driving force behind the chamber music group 45th Parallel, and Adam LaMotte of the Portland Baroque Orchestra have been working on a two-CD set of Jean-Marie LeClair’s Complete Sonatas for Two Violins. Today, they are releasing that music in high definition on PureAudio Blu-ray.

LeClair is best known for bringing Italian-level violin technique to France and for his violin compositions, which by “weaving together elements of Italian and French music, he created an entirely new compositional style. His duos influenced later composers such as Mozart, de Beriot, Viotti, and closer to our own time, Bartok and Berio,” according to publisher Sono Luminus. I happen to be listening to Ewer and LaMotte playing LeClair right now, and it’s delightful, and yes, the spirit, intelligence, and joy of Mozart, say, emerges almost immediately. It’s easy to see what attracted Ewer and LaMotte to this under-recorded Baroque music.

Ewer and LaMotte met many years ago in Houston, Texas. Here’s how Ewer described it on Facebook:

Back in the mid-1980’s in Houston, I rode the bus to middle school with a class clown by the name of Adam LaMotte. It was a rough and tumble school, so probably in the interest of self-preservation, neither one of us ever mentioned the fact…that we were students of the violin. We would only discover it upon showing up at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts with violin cases in hand, totally bewildered that this commonality had never come up in conversation.

Fast forward almost 30 years, and both of us are now living in Portland, Oregon, collaborating and performing together on almost a weekly basis. In 2001, our search for great music for two violins led us to discover the Duo Sonatas of Jean-Marie Leclair, two sets of little-known gems by this great French Baroque composer. We are proud to announce the release of a landmark recording of these 12 incredible pieces of music, available for the first time as a complete set and in high-definition on PureAudio Blu-ray. Leclair’s contribution to music history cannot be overstated, and neither can our excitement about this project! We hope you’ll be inspired to pick up a copy of our new two-CD set from Sono Luminus.

This is the sort of musical collaboration that I love—from the heart, sustained over a long period of time, beautifully played and recorded.

Speaking of Baroque, Portland painter Sherrie Wolf exhibition Baroque Sensibilities opens at the Long Beach Museum of Art in California April 3 through June 15.

Sherrie Wolf, "Still Life With Puget Sound"/Laura Russo Gallery

Sherrie Wolf, “Still Life With Puget Sound”/Laura Russo Gallery

Chloe Rust, whose play Bullies Anonymous was a finalist in Oregon Children Theatre’s Bully Project last year, did even better on the national stage: The play was named the runner-up in the national Dramatic Change: Anti-Bullying Initiative competition.

The national competition was sparked by OCT’s original idea, and artistic director Stan Foote and Michael Bobbitt (of Adventure Theatre, Baltimore) decided to try to expand it nationally. They found partners at Theatre for Young Audiences USA, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education, and the Dramatic Change/Young Playwrights for Change. And Rust, who is an 8th grader at Lakeridge Junior High in Lake Oswego, entered.

This year, round two of the project is already under way. Six finalists were selected to work with professional playwrights Matthew B. Zrebski and Debbie Lamedman of Playwrights West to revise and craft their scripts in a workshop setting. The final scripts will be featured at a public staged reading at 5 p.m. May 11, the Winningstad Theatre, and members of OCT’s Young Professionals program will direct and perform the six plays. The six finalists in the OCT contest this year include Rust, Mariana Penaloza-Vu, Kendall Uslan, Hannah Bachman, Lizzie O’Mahony, and Pablo Reese. The winners will be announced on May 1st.

“We love this project because it gives kids a voice about issues that are real and immediate to them,” OCT Artistic Director Foote said. “Plus, it offers young writers a chance to work with professionals to hone their craft.”

2 Responses.

  1. Greg Ewer says:

    Check out this bit of creativity by Portland’s Joan Rogers:

    Jean-Marie Leclair

    Let cheers and plaudits fill the air
    For Mr. Jean-Marie Leclair.
    Yes, Jean-Marie: a name so nice
    His parents christened with it twice;
    And so he had a same-named brother,
    But I am speaking of the other
    (Elder) Jean-Marie, unique
    Who broadened violin technique.
    The fiddle was a change of pace;
    He grew up making couture lace.
    Yet he could not stay in the habit
    Of decorating sleeve and jabot;
    Instead of catering to fops
    He was perfecting triple-stops.
    And gratitude to him you owe
    For the left-hand tremolo
    A musically useful notion
    To heighten tension and emotion.
    Well-regarded by his peers
    Leclair composed throughout the years
    Sonatas written just for strings
    And dedicated to the King.

    His second wife, by name Louise
    Eventually failed to please.
    And just like in a romance novel
    He fled to a flea-ridden hovel.
    “What novel would that be?” you ask.
    Exhausted by the thankless task
    Of penning these sad lines, I grovel
    As very few things rhyme with “hovel”
    And ask you just to overlook
    The few small liberties I took.
    So anyway, Leclair moved out
    Which gave his nephew cause to pout.
    He wished his uncle to reverse his
    Stance, and go into the service
    Of the Duke of Gramont, patron
    And still, there was the outraged matron:
    Poor Louise, abandoned, sad
    And one of them went to the bad
    Or so it’s thought. One morning fair
    The gardener came to see Leclair
    And found his master, not in bed
    But face-down on the floor, stone dead
    A knife between his shoulder blades,
    His soul in Paradise or Hades.
    I know that doesn’t rhyme or scan
    But still, I’ll do the best I can
    To end this history poetic
    With some effect less than emetic.
    This tragic and untimely passing
    By guessed-at, but unknown assassin
    Deprived us music-loving folk
    Of more great music, style Baroque.
    The lessons from this well-lived life:
    Be wary of your second wife—
    Or possibly, your brother’s son
    Lest you should find yourself undone;
    Be legendary, not a hack—
    But find someone to watch your back.

    Joan Rogers is a real estate broker and copyeditor with a lifelong passion for classical music. She dropped out of Oberlin College Conservatory, and plays several instruments excruciatingly.

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